What Are The Differences Between The Big 4 Accounting Firms?

They’re known as the Big Four for a reason: they’re the accounting firms that everyone has heard of, and their activities cross the globe. They’re all great places to get your professional certifications and start your career, even though they’ll work you hard. Here are some guidelines to guide you in making your decision.

Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PwC, Which is the best option for you?

A brief summary of the firms

PwC is the most prestigious and largest of the Big Four firms, with a huge and well-established audit client base.

  • Headquarters: London, UK
  • Revenue: $35.4 billion
  • Number of employees: 208,109

Deloitte is only a small bit smaller than PwC. Audit services account for a far smaller portion of company revenue, whereas consulting accounts for a much larger portion.

  • Headquarters: New York, USA
  • Revenue: $35.2 billion
  • Number of employees: 225,400

EY is one of the biggest firms in terms of employees, with a reasonably well-balanced range of services. It grew its overall income the fastest of the Big Four in 2015.

  • Headquarters: London, UK
  • Revenue: $28.7 billion
  • Number of employees: 212,000

KPMG is the Big Four’s smallest and most European-focused firm, with a strong consultancy and advising business to complement its auditing.

  • Headquarters: Amstelveen, Netherlands
  • Revenue: $24.44 billion
  • Number of employees: 173,965

Workplace culture

The Big Four are all eager to tell you how their culture sets them apart. However, this might result in their sounding extremely similar. Speaking with people who have worked for other cultures is the best approach to grasp the differences. Here are a few things to remember:

PwC is the most prestigious of the four firms, and its employees are aware of this. There’s a sense of security here that you won’t get at Deloitte, for example, because of the firm’s reputation and strong audit business.

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Deloitte is a smaller firm in the UK than PwC and is trying to catch up. It focuses more on consulting, which means it’s always looking for new projects. This all adds up to a culture that is ambitious, competitive, and results-oriented.

EY is known for its diversity, with a strong track record of promoting women and a long history of supporting LGBTQ rights. It’s reputed to be one of the nicer workplaces.

KPMG is regarded for its great employee development, with pass rates for key credentials far exceeding the industry average. Its culture is unique, with less need to conform to the image of a city graduate.

What roles are there for students?

The following services are provided by all of the big firms:

For first-year students, there are two-day residential programmes (or second years on a four year course). They’re an opportunity to learn more about what it’s like to work at the organization, and if you do well, you might be fast-tracked to a summer internship.

Internships for students in their penultimate year during the summer. These are in the field of accounting in which you’re interested. You’ll learn the basics and work as part of a team over the course of six to eight weeks. If you perform well, you may be given a permanent position following graduation.

Year-in-industry students can participate in work placements. Anyone who needs to spend a year in industry as part of a four-year programme can do so for a full year.

While these programmes are all quite similar, the companies also provide some unique chances. Listed below are a few examples:

For students interested in the technical and IT side of the business, PwC offers a brief Tech Academy. A Data Analytics Academy for new graduates is also available for eight weeks.

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PwC also offers an Africa Firm Group Education programme interested in expanding their business in the continent.

Student Digital Brand Ambassador is a role offered by EY in which you use your contacts and social media presence to promote the EY brand on your campus.

KPMG organizes a Women in Technology Insight Week to encourage female students to pursue careers in technology.

It’s important to note that all of the companies have a specific placement or mentorship programme for women. They’ll also be on campus for career fairs, where they’ll give skills clinics, information sessions, and even mock interviews.

What are they looking for, and who are they looking for?

The important abilities highlighted on each firm’s application pages can help you figure out where you’d fit in best.

PwC: including leadership, technical skills, business acumen, global acumen, and relationships.

Deloitte:  A strong interest in business, a smart and inquisitive mind, exceptional interpersonal skills, and an ability to roll up one’s sleeves

EY: stands for excellence, teamwork, integrity, mutually respectful, and energy.

KPMG: A good understanding of business, a desire to learn more, and the capacity to come up with creative solutions for problems.

Benefits Review

There isn’t much to decide between these four firms because they all provide benefit packages that can be personalized. The standard 25-day vacation is available, with the opportunity to purchase additional days or cash them in for extra income. You can choose from a variety of options, including private healthcare, life insurance, daycare savings, gym membership, and so on. Importantly, each of them provides a graduation loan to assist you in getting started.

Salaries Review

The Big Four do not list a graduate starting salary on their websites, instead stating that it will be “fair.” It’s likely that they’ll all be similar. Accountant wages in London start at from £26,000 to £28,000 per year, rising to £30,000 or more by the end of your training contract.

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Salary ranges for summer internships are said to be variable. PwC and EY are the most generous, paying £2,000 to £2,500 per month, while Deloitte and KPMG are the least generous, offering £1,650 to £1,850 per month.

In all four firms, qualified accountants earn a wide variety of salaries. PwC pays the most, ranging from £40,000 to £55,000 if you continue on after your exams, but there’s a lot of overlap. You could be offered £45,000 at any of the four phases.

Training Review

Any of the Big Four’s first few years will be heavily focused on achieving a professional qualification. You can become a Chartered Accountant, a Chartered Tax Advisor, or a trained Actuary, depending on your area of interest. You may not require a professional qualification to work in consultancy, but you will still need to go through extensive training.

Although all four firms believe in flexible growth and recognize that everyone learns differently, they have significantly varied interpretations of what this entails.

PwC employs a communication method, with a little more senior colleague guiding you through the process. You’ll have a partner or director mentor to guide you through the process.

Along with your professional qualifications, Deloitte emphasizes mentorship and flexible development opportunities.

EY emphasizes on teaching through experiences and coaching, in addition to using e-learning. It’s the only company whose training sites address giving back to the community.

KPMG is one of the top at leading you through your professional certifications, and it offers a trainee community called the Academy that helps to make training more social.

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